It looks like 3D printing is really getting more and more popular, what with a 3D printed electric car being yet another possible viable transportation option down the road. Having said that, a research team that hails from the University of Virginia has come up with a 3D printed UAV drone that will see action over at the Department of Defense. This is a labor of love that has been in the making for a good three years, and the UAV drone is no larger in size compared to a remote-controlled plane, and it is capable of carrying a 1.5-pound payload to boot.

What makes this 3D printed UAV drone special is the fact that should it experience a crash, or if it requires a slight design tweak to embark on a brand new mission, one can just print out a different model, taking slightly more than a day to do so for $2,500 thereabouts. The other bits and pieces required to turn this 3D printed UAV drone into reality include some off-the-shelf parts alongside an Android-powered smartphone as its “brain”.

This is a first prototype that was based on a conventional radio-controlled (RC) aircraft, and the end result is an aircraft which boasts of a four-foot wingspan, tipping the scales at a mere 1.8 pounds. When fully loaded with the relevant electronics gear, it will weigh less than 6 pounds, allowing the engine to carry it for up to 45 minutes at 40 mph.

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